Monday, November 28, 2011

Interpreting Heroines

In last week's post, I discussed how I interpreted my heroes and what they would be like today. Interpreting my heroines is a daunting task, as women in 1810 were not allowed any freedoms that we are allowed today.

Back then, women were "kept" as possessions, sold to the highest bidder by their father. They had no rights, no assets, whatever they "owned", what little money they had, usually went to their husbands upon their marriage. Sucks right?

So let's see if I can come up with something suitable for my "girls" to "do" in today's world.

In 1810 --

Penny -- Lady Penelope Leighton, daughter of the Duke of Olmstead. Afflicted with a stutter and looking for love in marriage.

Violet -- Lady Violet Flowers. Daughter of the missing Earl of Flowers. Seventeen and making her debut.

Amanda -- Married to Barthomolew Wood. Mother to Rachel. Best friend to Penny until her father took her to seek his fortune in America.

Rosamund -- Lady Rosamund Smith. Bluestocking. Caretaker of her parents.

Fiona -- Lady Fiona Stewart. Daughter of the Earl of Fionghall. Twenty-nine and has never been kissed.

Present day --

Penny -- Shy, retiring twenty-two year old, wants to be a horse vetrinarian.

Violet -- Lives in the shadow of a beautiful older sister. Desires to work with children.

Amanda -- Jerkface husband walked out on her and took their daughter. She owns a small farm and makes do with whatever money that brings in. Someday she hopes to have enough to search for her daughter.

Rosamund -- Straight A college student, working on her doctorate in ancient history.

Fiona -- Living as a housekeeper to her brutish father. No friends, no family, has only sheep for company.

As the men don't necessarily WANT to be married, the women, too, have their own realities to face.

Penny -- Her stutter debilitates her. She believes she will never find the man of her dreams.

Violet -- With a beautiful older sister, and being on the "plump" side, also with no dowry to speak of, Violet gives up any hope of ever meeting "the one".

Amanda -- Has wrapped herself in a bubble of memories of her daughter. Stuck between a rock and a hard place waiting for her return, she can't move forward with her life.

Rosamund -- Caring for her aging parents has left her no choice but to remain unmarried.

Fiona -- Gets caught in a compromising position through no fault of her own and must marry a man she doesn't even know.

Now, don't get me wrong, these ladies do have wherewithal to fight for themselves and what they inevitably want. Sure they have to go through hell and back to get it, but to them, love is worth it. Isn't it?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Interpreting Heroes

As a writer of romance, I tend to think of the men in my stories as heroes.  They save the day, defeat the villain, rescue the girl.  In my Regency series, however, my heroes are not the typical reformed rake, or libertine.  They do not ride in, in a blaze of glory and slay the dragon.  They tend to be common placed, normal, everyday members of the aristocracy.  (Well, I couldn't let go of all my tendencies, could I?)

A question was posed to me awhile ago, which I thought was interesting enough to write a blog post about.

If your heroes were set in the present day, what would they be?

Interesting concept.  I had to think about it.  So let's break it all down and see what I come up with.

These are my heroes and what they do in 1810.

William  -- The Earl of Westerly.  Second son of the Duke of Chesnick.  Joined the Horse Guards in 1800.

Ellis -- The Marquess of Haverlane.  Oldest son of the Duke of Chesnick.  Member of Parliament, has the ear of Prince George.

Robert -- The Duke of Cantin.  Takes care of his family.

Richard -- Retired Captain in the Royal Navy.  Captured Bonaparte the first time.

Rory -- The Earl of Bailey.  Studies ancient Peloponnsian text.

So, if I transferred them to the present day, here's what I think they would do.

William -- Texas Ranger.

Ellis -- Vice-president.

Robert -- CEO of the family shipping line.

Richard -- Navy Seal.

Rory -- College professor.

Now, naturally, what is not seen in all these descriptions are the underlying causes which make them the perfect man for them to NOT fall in love, hence become Reluctant Grooms.

William -- Dealing with PTSD.

Ellis -- A widower with a two year old who is still in love with his dead wife.

Robert -- Burned by an ex-fiance.

Richard -- Never stayed in one place long enough to find the right woman.

Rory -- Conceited, vain, highly intelligent and looks down his nose upon those not in his social circle.

Thinking of these men in present day has allowed me a broader scope in how I want to write about them. People are people, whether in 1810 or 2010.  They all have the same hopes, dreams, ties that bind, and experiences that break.  This was an interesting exercise.  As writers, we're told to stretch our imaginations, cast the net as widely as possible.  How'd I do?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Aristocratic Rank and File

The most frequest question I've been asked is why I write English Regency romance when I'm an American. It's simple. I love the class structure of the British aristocracy. Dukes and Earls and Viscounts, oh my. I'd like to think I was a Countess in a former life. LOL. (And I know it wasn't all sunshine and lollipops for the lesser classes, but in my world they all had good jobs and decent homes and no one died from disease or starvation.)

For those of you who'd like a primer in that world, here's a little info that may help you, in either reading, or writing it. Let's start at the top, shall we.

King & Queen -- They are the reigning Monarchs. They rule the country. You would address them as Your Majesty.

Prince & Princess -- Children and grandchildren of the King and Queen. You would address them as Your Highness, or, Your Grace.

Duke -- Their wives were known as Duchess. Created in 1337. These were the people who were next in line to the throne after the Prince and Princess. Their family line could be traced to the reigning Monarch. You would address only the duke as Your Grace. You address the duchess as Your Ladyship, or my lady. During the Low and Middle Ages the Monarch would give their kinsmen land surrounding the castle. More land was gained by marrying into it. Their title would be the name of the county of which their principal holding sat, ie. Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Devonshire, etc. They all held a seat in the House of Lords in Parliament.

Marquess -- (pronounced Mar-Kwess) Their wives were known as Marchioness (pronounced Mar-Ki-o-ness or Mar-Key-o-ness) Created in 1385. These titles were created when England usurped Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Members of these aristocracies in their own country weren't in line to the throne so they couldn't become Dukes. They became Marquess instead, which is why there aren't a lot of them. You would adress them as -- my lord, my lady. They also hold a seat in the House of Lords.

Earl -- Their wives were known as Countess. Created in the 800's. You would address them as -- my lord, my lady. They were the chief royal representative in the shires (counties). Their name was usually from their place, Earl of Cory, but later, they could also use their surname if they held no land, Earl Gray. (Yes, there actually was an Earl Gray.)

Viscount -- (pronounced Vi-count) Their wives were known as Viscountess. Created 1440. Originally a Viscount was the sheriff of the shire and reported to the Earl. They mainly used their surname in their title, Viscount Hadley. They were addressed as -- my lord, my lady.

Baron -- The least of the nobility. Their wives, of course, were Baroness. Created 1066. This title was usually applied to the chief tenants of the Earl, and their land had been granted to them by the Monarch. I'm not really sure how you would address them. I think - Sir - possibly - my lord. I don't really know a whole lot about Barons.

Baronet-- Created in 1611. This is a special hereditary rank. If you remember, in Jane Austen's PERSUASION, Anne Elliot's father is a Baronet. I know you address them as Sir.

Knight -- Are NOT members of the aristocracy. They are addressed as Sir or Madam. It is an Honorary title. Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Elton John, Dame Judi Dench, Dame Joan Plowright.

You could have as many, or as few titles, as you had ancestors. You would sometimes also lose a title if you gained another one. Say you were a Marquess and your father the Duke died, you would become the Duke. Now if you had a son, he would become the Marquess.  If you didn't have an heir, you could then give the lesser title to the presumptive heir.

If you died without issue (male children) the Monarchy could usurp your title back into its fold, taking with it all land and monies you had. It would either keep it, or reissue it to someone else as was its wont.

You could also gain a title by doing some great heroic endeavor, ie. Admiral, Lord Nelson. He was just plain old Horatio Nelson when he joined the Royal Navy. After his action at Cadiz he was given the title of 1st Viscount. (He was also the Duke of Bronte but that was given to him by the King of Spain. Also, because he died without issue, his Viscountancy was taken back by the King of England, and there has never been another. However, there was a special provision for his Baronetcy that was given to his brother after his death.)

This is the list of Nelson's titles that was read at his state funeral.

The Most Noble Lord Horatio Nelson, Viscount and Baron Nelson, of the Nile and of Burnham Thorpe in the County of Norfolk, Baron Nelson of the Nile and of Hilborough in the said County, Knight of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Vice Admiral of the White Squadron of the Fleet, Commander in Chief of his Majesty's Ships and Vessels in the Mediterranean, Duke of Bronte in Sicily, Knight Grand Cross of the Sicilian Order of St Ferdinand and of Merit, Member of the Ottoman Order of the Crescent, Knight Grand Commander of the Order of St. Joachim.

And there you have my take on the aristocracy. Now, by all means this is not a comprehensive list or definition. This is just a cursory glance at what I've learned. Believe me, I have scads of notes and web-sites that could explain it a whole lot better. And I'll spare you from discussing "precedence". It's a nightmare.

Monday, November 7, 2011


I just wanted to let you all know that THE LADY'S FATE, is now available on Smashwords. 

If I've learned nothing else from this experience of self-publishing it's how to format for every single type of e-reader available.  With the time change, I was up at the ungodly hour of 4 am, and with nothing to do, I decided to try and upload to Smashwords.  Which I did, but it kept bouncing back to me saying that my file was too big.  So I had to "strip it".  Which means, I had to take out ALL the formatting. 

ALL the formatting.  And then reformat the entire document.  It took me all day Sunday.  4 am to 4 pm.  I kid you not.  12 hours.  I had to learn a  bunch of new techniques and then re-upload the document.  But by 6 pm it was "pending" with no glitches.  So I was a happy girl when I went to bed last night. 

Hah!  And I though the learning curve for the Kindle was hard.  That was a cake walk compared to yesterday. 

But now I know how to do it.  And yes, I am very proud of myself.  I never, ever thought in a zillion years, that I would ever know how to do things with a computer that would end up becoming a book.  A published book at that. 

Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?